Marriage as a social establishment is perceived as a humanized social order where two people, fit for going into the union, have vowed themselves to the institutional standards and values and promised to one another an exceptionally strong attachment to support and keep up the marital commitment. In some specific conditions it has happened that the husbands and the families demand dowry.

Dowry implies the exchange of parental property at the marriage of a daughter. Dowry is a payment of money or gifts from the bride’s family to the groom’s family upon marriage. It might incorporate money, adornments, electrical machines, furniture, ceramics, utensils, vehicle and other family things that assist the recently married couple with the beginning of their new life venture. Dowry is an old custom, and its existence may well foresee records of it.

The custom of dowry is profound established in Indian culture throughout the years, it has transformed into a social danger, excessively dug in and mischievous to be handled by reformers and law- makers. It is for the most part perceived that dowry, in its unique structure, did not depend on greed and coercion as it frequently the case today yet present a gift of adoration and respect for the bridegroom. The role of the bride’s parents was to give security and remuneration to legacy rights to the daughter to empower her to lead a harmonious and dignified relationship with her other half and his family.

In the case of Rajeev v. Smash Kishan Jaiswal, the court held that any property given by guardians of the bride need not be in light of the marriage, it can even be regarding the marriage and would constitute dowry.

Dowry death, murder-suicide, and bride burning are consuming indications of unconventional social sickness and are unfortunate improvement of the public at large. During the last few decades India has seen the evils of malice of the dowry system in a more intense structure in practically all pieces of the country since it is practiced by almost every part of society; independent of religion, caste or creed to which they belong. It is merely an everyday event that not only married women are harassed embarrassed, beaten and compelled to end it all and abused however thousands are even burnt to death since parents can’t satisfy dowry needs.

In India, the dowry system puts an extraordinary financial burden on the bride’s family. The law-makers taking the note of seriousness and outcome of the issue authoritative measures to connect the provisos the law just as to institute new provisions to make the law rational and successful. The Dowry Prohibition Act in India, the principal of this enactment is to manage the social evil of dowry, was passed in 1961. The object of this act is to forbid giving and taking of dowry.

Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

Section 3 discussions about Penalty for giving and taking dowry – According to this part, if any individual after the initiation of the Act gives or takes, abets the giving or taking of dowry will be punished with an imprisonment for a term not less than five years and with fine which will not be less than fifteen thousand rupees or the measure of the estimation of dowry, whichever is more. So the family of bridegroom would be liable for taking dowry so would the family of bride be to agree to give dowry.

Section 4 discussions about Penalty for demanding dowry – According to this section, if any individual straightforwardly or in a roundabout way demands dowry from the parents, family members or relative of the bride or the bridegroom will be punished with an imprisonment of not less than six months and which will extend to two years and with fine which may reach out to 10,000 rupees. After few amendments the act attempts to check this social threat.

A typical practice in marriages are that articles and ornaments of bride are quickly taken into possession by husband or his family can moved to woman or her heirs by temperance of section 6 with time period of three months failing of such act will amount to imprisonment from six months to two years and fine from five to ten thousand rupees. Supreme Court in case of Pratibha Rani v. Suraj Kumar held that claiming bride articles will add up to criminal breach of trust punishable under section 405 of Penal code.

Section7 discusses Cognizance of offense – According to this section, a judge not below the position of a Metropolitan Magistrate or Judicial Magistrate of First Class will attempt an offense under this Act. The court will take cognizance of the offense just on the report by the victim, the guardians or relative of the victim, police report or on its own insight into facts of the offense.

As per section 8 certain offenses under this Act shall be cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable.

Indian Penal Code, 1860

  • Section 304-B discusses Dowry Death – It is the death caused to woman by burns or bodily injury, or under unnatural conditions inside seven years of her marriage, where it is shown that she was harassed or put to savagery by husband or his family members in connection of dowry the culpable with a term of seven years to life imprisonment.

In Vemuri Venkateshwara Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh, the court has set out the accompanying rule for establishing an offense under section 304(B) and they are-

  • That there is a demand of dowry and provocation by the accused,
  • That the deceased had died,
  • That the death is under unnatural circumstances.

Since there was demand for dowry and harassment and death inside 7 years of marriage, different things consequently follow and offense under section 304-B is proved.

  • Section 498A talks about Cruelty on woman by Husband or Relatives-When her husband or his family member subjects the woman to cruelty or harassment. Cruelty by his better half or family members has been made punishable with imprisonment up to three years and fine u/s 498-A. The word cruelty implies both mental and physical torment. It comprises of any wilful direct liable to drive the woman to end it all or to cause danger to her life, appendage or health, mental or physical or harassment to pressure her or some other individual by making an unlawful demand for dowries, for example, property or any goods.
  • If an individual purposefully causes woman demise then punishable under section 302 IPC.
  • If husband and his family members make a circumstance which prompted the suicide of woman within seven years of marriage fall inside the ambit of section 306 IPC.


To establish the offense of Cruelty, it is important to show that the woman was married, there was some sort of cruelty or harassment and the act was committed by the husband or his relatives.

One can decide to go to the neighborhood police station where the wife stays with the husband or the wife stays with her father.

Submit an oral complaint which the police will record it as a hard copy and get the wife’s signature or acknowledge a written complaint with that police station.

There are few things that one needs to remember while submitting a police complaint. Initially, one should not give insane proclamations while submitting the police complaint rather give exact data as facts of the occurrence. Besides, there are times when police don’t put the actual facts down while registering the complaint.

One should take a composed complaint along in order to stay away from this occurrence and furthermore to twofold check the data one has given to the police prior to getting paperwork done for your duplicate of the equivalent.

The police need to take cognizance of the offence and it must be investigated. A FIR must be registered in these cases.

Note that a police station can’t decline to take your protest or divert you to another Police Station in any capacity whatsoever.

The FIR can be enlisted in Zero number and afterward can be moved to the concerned Police Station. No fees need to be paid in order to lodge these complaints. A free duplicate of the FIR is given to the complainant after formalities have been finished.

After the FIR, the police will give a notice to the charged (Husband, Husband’s Relatives) to record their assertions as well as even arrest them.

Despite the fact that these days the issue will be referred to the welfare committee for additional examination and no action will be made against the husband or his relative until proved. The exclusion is that there are substantial physical wounds or death of the victim.

  • (In very district on or all the more Family Welfare Committees, be established by the District Legal Services Authorities ideally containing three individuals.
  • The constitution and working of such boards of trustees might be reviewed occasionally and in any event once in a year by the District and Sessions Judge of the district who is additionally the Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority.
  • The Committees might be comprised out of Para lawful volunteers/social workers/retired Persons/wives of working officials/different residents who might be found appropriate and willing.)

This committee would interface with the parties either personally or via phone and afterward needs to reach to a conclusion within a month. The report will be set up by the committee and should be given to the power which eluded the complaint to it.

On the off chance that the concerned authority refuses to register the complaint, at that point the woman can post the complaint by Registered Post or request to meet the following in order.

Misuse of Section 498A –

Section 498 A has progressively been attacked and connected with the perception that it is misused – that women much of the time use it as a weapon against their in-laws. This counter-story is especially universal on the web, in the numerous online networks of husbands who feel violated by vindictive wives.

In July 2014, the Supreme Court observed this developing perception and ruled against the programmed or immediate arrest of a husband and his family in cases recorded under Section 498A.

Rather than automatically arresting the accused when a complaint is lodged under Section 498A, police authorities were told not to make arrests without the consent of the Magistrate, and to inspect the need for arrest as per Section 41 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 41 records the particular conditions under which the police can arrest an individual without a warrant, for example, when an individual submits a cognizable offense within the presence of a police officer, or submits an offence that merits in at least seven years of imprisonment.

On the ground, the execution of this decision has lead two significant issues. Women who attempt to file cases under Section 498A are regularly compelled to go through counselling sessions with their husbands before their complaints are given serious consideration which frequently purchases time for the accused to acquire anticipatory bail. (Anticipatory bail is a direction to release an individual on bail, given even before the individual is arrested. It is just given by the Sessions Court and High Court.)

Indian Evidence Act, 1872

  • Section 113 B discusses Presumption as to dowry death which says-

At the point when the question is whether an individual has submitted dowry death of a woman and it is demonstrated that soon before her demise such woman had been oppressed by such individual to cruelty or harassment for, or regarding, any demand for dowry, the court will assume that such individual had caused the dowry death.


Dowry Death is a social curse that is a burning issue in Indian society. It can be noted that the Government of India, along with the Indian judiciary, has introduced cooperative and compassionate legislation to safeguard the life rights and dignity of women and to provide more justice for victims of abuse or violence by their husbands and relatives.

If this law is misused by women, they should understand that these laws are made for those women who are constantly being harassed and threatened in their houses by their husbands or relatives. These laws are made for their own benefit and instead of deriving any benefit from it or misusing it, they should give the opportunities of using these laws to those women who are in dire need which will help them overcome the issue of Dowry system and Dowry Deaths.

– Purti Sharma
Associate advocate/Legal coordinator
ASC Solicitors and Advocates